Saturday, February 05, 2005

I want an iPod shuffle

iPod wages secret war on Microsoft campus.

If there ever was proof of the iPod's amazing innovative design and alluring pull, this is it. Look me in the eye and tell me that this isn't funny, I dare you.
"About 80 percent of Microsoft employees who have a portable music player have an iPod," said one source, a high-level manager who asked to remain anonymous. "It's pretty staggering."

The source estimated 80 percent of Microsoft employees have a music player -- that translates to 16,000 iPod users among the 25,000 who work at or near Microsoft's corporate campus. "This irks the management team no end," said the source.

So popular is the iPod, executives are increasingly sending out memos frowning on its use.
I reiterate my point: Apple did good to focus on the iPod as a core business. They also learned from their mistake of not making their operating system cross-architecture and allowed the iPod and iTunes to be cross-platform. This gave them an amazing market penetration rate. According to Apple's own figures, they control 65% of the portable digital audio player market and 70% of online music sales. The iPod is one of the main reasons Apple's stock has been able to triple over the last year.

I don't think since Sony's Walkman has a single product ever come out that defined a new personal lifestyle. Maybe today's version of the Honda Civic. I'm quite impressed by the Civic Nation campaign. The commercials have been hip, tailored, and wow, I strangely want a Civic (but it would have to be a hybrid version, that's a requirement for any car I'd ever want to buy). But I want an iPod more.

The iPod has been so successful in creating a unique lifestyle image that a university professor is actually doing a study on it. Markus Giesler is an assistant professor of marketing at York University's Schulich School of Business. Inspired by his own love for his own iPod, he notes, "iPod therefore I am." Everyday users are encouraged to submit their personal stories of how they use their iPods. Me, I just want one for when I go skiing (though there's been no snow in the mountains for a while now...).

The iPod shuffle is just as stylish as the original iPod, except that it's solid state media (i.e. flash memory) and therefore has less memory capacity. However, it far improves on the original iPod in terms of size. I'll take a space-efficient solid state media iPod over a clunky harddrive-based iPod any day. OK, the original iPod wasn't exactly clunky. But the iPod shuffle is that much smaller. Its interface seems almost as good as the original iPod (admittedly the smaller space makes for more challenges in designing an intuitive interface), and it still has that sleek clean look.

I'm really tempted to blow my budget and buy it. @@ But we shall wait and see what Dell has up its sleeve. I notice that they keep putting on discount promotions for the DJ these days. Weren't they coming out with a solid state media MP3 player as well? The Dell DJ is certainly the leader when I take everything into consideration (price, performance, etc.). But Apple's always been the style leader. I'm willing to sacrifice style for price, whatwith my budget. But the iPod shuffle would have me in a second if I had the money.

Kudos to Apple for making quite possibly the best consumer product in all of recent history. Steve Jobs is a genius and kudos for him for admitting that going cross-platform was the right way to go this time; Apple orginally wanted to keep the iPod Mac-centric to add value to buying a Mac. For their sake, it's a good thing they didn't, or there's no way they would have reached a 65% market share.

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